There are two basic approaches to preventing accidents: controlling the work environment or managing the attitude and behavior of employees. A successful safety program designed to prevent accidents combines both. There are numerous workplace safety rules that are designed to control or eliminate hazardous conditions that lead to accidents. It is the employer's responsibility to implement the company's safety program by assessing workplace hazards and by observing and changing unsafe work environments, equipment, and worker habits.
Accidents are often preceded by related incidents and near misses. Following are definitions suggested by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for each of these events:
• Accident. The National Safety Council defines an "accident" as an undesired event that results in personal injury or property damage.
• Incident. An "incident" is an unplanned, undesired event that adversely affects completion of a task.
• Near miss. A "near miss" is an incident in which no property was damaged and no personal injury sustained, but given a slight shift in time or position, damage and/or injury could easily have occurred.
Addressing incidents and near misses before an accident occurs can prevent injuries and damage to property.
Accidents can occur as the result of predictable and unpredictable actions, events, or conditions. Unpredictable events that may directly or indirectly lead to workplace accidents include a tornado, earthquake, terrorist attack, or an employee having a heart attack. Workplace violence is often unpredictable, though signs of violent behavior in employees are sometimes recognizable to the trained ...